SITKA, Alaska — The First Presbyterian Church of Sitka has announced that it is dissolving as a congregation and is beginning the process of closing.

The closure is in response to dwindling membership and the high cost of maintaining the aging building, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported Monday.

The congregation built the church in 1958.

“The First Presbyterian Church of Sitka, Alaska, is coming to the end of its life as we have known it, though not the end of a story,” the church said in a statement. “It leaves a legacy whose impact reaches beyond our knowing, from the first congregation established September 7, 1884, to the small group that gathers today and all those in between whose lives have had a part of the life of this church.”

Kristy Miller, the church ministry and facility coordinator, said that instead of a congregation, Sitka Presbyterians will be a “fellowship” directly under the Northwest Coast Presbytery.

Miller said an administrative commission with members from the Sitka church and the presbytery will be formed next month to begin the process of closing the building, which she said is expected to be done by Sept. 30.

The commission will then consider the building’s next use.

“While other uses of the facility have been explored, the reality is that a small group of people cannot sustain current demands,” the church said. “The recent exploration of a men’s shelter made clear that we have reached a point of stewarding a shrinking membership in transition in which trying to add or turn the building into something else in this season does not work.”

Church leaders said they would be planning a Presbyterian Legacy Potluck to celebrate the life of the church.

Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel,

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